Healthy Banana Muffins


If you've paid any attention to my blog at all, you've probably figured out that healthy really isn't my thing.  Delicious is my thing.  Unfortunately, the two often don't go hand-in-hand.  However, that doesn't stop my from trying healthy recipes that look or sound good.  The majority of the time, they're a flop and they never make it here.  But, every once in a while, I stumble upon a special recipe that is both healthy and delicious.  This, my friends, is one of those.  

These banana muffins contain no flour and no oil or butter.  I even reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe and substituted honey instead.  These muffins are really dense, so it doesn't take a lot to fill you up.  They're also really moist.  And, I think you could really change the recipe up a lot by adding in different fruits as they are in season.  

Adapted from: Chase and Em

What you need:
2 1/2 Cups Quick Cooking Oats
1 Cup Plain Low Fat Greek Yogurt
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
1 1/5 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Ripe Bananas
2 Tsp Cinnamon 

What you do:
1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

2.  Line your muffin tins with muffin liners. 

3.  Place the quick cooking oats into your blender or food processor.  Blend until the oats are pulverized. 

4.  Place the rest of the ingredients into the blender with the oats and blend until fully mixed. (I may have a super weak blender, but this took quite a while.  I'd have to blend and then stir up and blend and stir up.  It wasn't difficult, but it wasn't accomplished all at once either). 

5.  Fill each cupcake liner until it's about 2/3 full and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 



Lasagna Soup


I really like making lasagna from scratch, but it's so time consuming I rarely actually get to do it.  It finally got cold around here and it looks like it's going to stay that way, so I decided some soup was in order.  I've had this recipe pinned on Pinterest for quite a while now, so I decided to give it a go.  I was suspect though -- I thought that there was no way a soup could actually taste like lasagna.   I was wrong.  It really does taste like lasagna.  Don't believe me?  Give it a try.  You'll be surprise.  Bonus --  it is about a million times easier and faster to make than making a lasagna from scratch. 

Slightly adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

What you need to make the soup:
1 1/2 Pounds Sausage 
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
6 Oz Tomato Paste
28 Oz Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (undrained)
6 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1/2 Pound Rigatoni Noodles
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese (for garnishing)

What you do to make the soup:
1.  In a large pot, cook the sausage for about 5 minutes on medium heat, breaking it up as you cook. 

2.  Add the onions to the sausage and continue cooking (stirring occasionally)  for about 5 minutes, or until the sausage is completely cooked.  Drain excess grease if necessary. 

3.  Add the garlic powder, oregano, red pepper, and tomato paste.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

4.  Add the fire roasted diced tomatoes (with the juices), chicken broth, and basil. 

5.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

6.  While the soup is boiling/simmering, cook the rigatoni noodles according to direction and make the ricotta cheese mixture (below).  Drain and fully rinse the noodles.

What you need to make the ricotta cheese mixture:
1. 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
2. 1/4 Cup shredded Asiago Cheese
3. 1/4 Cup shredded Romano Cheese
4. 1/4 Tsp Salt
5. 1/8 Tsp Black Pepper
6. 1 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil

What you do to make the ricotta cheese mixture:
1. Mix everything together. (Really. That's it.)

To Serve:

Place a couple of spoonfuls of rigatoni noodles in the bottom of a bowl. Top the noodles with a couple of ladlefuls of lasagna soup. Garnish with shredded mozzarella. Add a dollop of the ricotta cheese mixture on the very top. Serve immediately.

This is goes great with a crunchy piece of garlic bread.



Alice Springs Chicken


My favorite dish (maybe also the only one I've ever ordered) from Outback Steakhouse is the Alice Springs Chicken.  I've looked online several times in the past and have been unable to find a copy cat recipe.  Until I found this one.  Super excited to finally find a recipe, I gave it a go and was not disappointed. It was pretty easy to make and, although this is not Outback's exact recipe, it comes pretty darn close.  Close enough that I'll be making it again.  I'm not even going to try to tweak it to make it closer to Outback's -- it's that close. 

Slightly Adapted From:  The Finer Things In Life

What You Will Need:
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
Seasoning Salt to Taste
6 Slices of Bacon, cut in half
1/4 Cup Mustard
1/3 Cup Honey
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise 
2 Tsps Onion Powder
1 Cup Fresh White Button Mushrooms, sliced
2 Cups Shredded Colby Jack Cheese

Here's What You Do:
1.  Sprinkle season salt on the chicken breasts and rub in well.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

2.  While the chicken is in the refrigerator, cook your bacon (I baked mine).  Save the bacon grease. 

3.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

4.  Saute the chicken in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes per side (until browned).  As you cook each piece of chicken, place the cooked chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

5.  In a bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayo, and onion powder.  Apply this mixture to each chicken breast. 

6.  Place a layer of mushrooms, bacon, and shredded cheese on each chicken breast. 

7.  Bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, or the cheese is melted and the chicken is completely cooked through.   

8.  Serve the chicken with the remaining honey mustard sauce that you made in step 5. 

I served my Alice Springs Chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.   It was delicious!



Breakfast Pizza


Sometimes, I have leftover pizza for breakfast.  Sometimes, I have leftover breakfast for dinner.  Pizza and breakfast food are two of my favorite things.  The only logical thing to do, then, is to marry the two together, right?  Right.  And, that is exactly what I did.  You can thank me later.

What you need:
1 Pizza Dough*
1 Can of Sausage Gravy
1/2 Lb. cooked breakfast meat of your choosing (I used bacon)
6 Eggs, scrambled
1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
Any veggie toppings you want on your pizza ( I added mushrooms)

*I make my own pizza dough using a recipe that I haven't been authorized to share.  You can always pick up a pre-made crust at the store or you can buy a can of pizza dough just like a can of biscuits and cook the dough yourself.

What you need to do:
1.  Cook and drain your breakfast meat and scramble your eggs.

2.  Preheat your oven according to the directions on your pizza dough.  Prepare your pizza dough and lay it out on your baking stone or pizza pan, but do not bake the dough.

3.  Spread a generous amount of sausage gravy on top of your cooked pizza crust (as if it were pizza sauce).

4.  Sprinkle your cooked breakfast meat on top of the sausage gravy.

5.  Sprinkle scrambled eggs on top of the sausage gravy and meat.

6.  Sprinkle any veggie toppings on top of the other toppings.

7.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of the pizza.

8.  Bake according to pizza dough directions. 



Blueberry Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting


I was skeptical at first of the combination of blueberry and lime, but I decided to give these a shot this Spring.  They came out delicious!  The lime and cream cheese frosting was a bit tangy, but incredibly refreshing and the cupcakes were not too sweet.  I did find the cupcakes to be a bit dry for my personal taste, but the frosting was so delicious,  I was able to look past the dry cake. 

Slightly Adapted From: Tracey's Culinary Adventures

What you need for the cupcakes:
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour, divided
3/4 Cup Cake Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Unslated Butter, at room temperature
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Sugar
Juice of 1 Lime 
2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Milk, at room temperature
1 Cup Blueberries (preferably fresh) 

What you do to make the cupcakes:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
2.  Line cupcake pans with liners. 
3.  Whisk 3/4 cup all purpose flour, all of the cake flower, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Set that bowl aside. 
4.  In another bowl combine the sugar and lime juice.  
5.  Add the butter and cream until light and fluffy. 
6.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat well after each addition. 
7.  Add the vanilla and mix well. 
8. Add the flour mixture and the milk, a bit at a time, alternating flour mixture and milk.
9.  Gently fold in 3/4 cup of blueberries. 
10.  Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way full. 
11.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
12.  Cool completely. 

What you need for the frosting: 
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
Juice of 1 Lime 
Green Food Coloring, if desired

What you do to make the frosting:

1.  Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. 
2.  Add the lime juice and mix well. 
3.  Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 of a cup at a time.  
4.  After all of the powdered sugar is mixed in, add green food coloring to color as desired. 
5.  Mix on high speed until fluffy. 
6.  Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes with an over sized icing tip. 
7.  Garnish with blueberries. 



Pepperoni Roll-Ups


My friend Amber bought a house earlier this year.  She had a housewarming party, like, a month later.  I bought a house last year.  I haven't had my housewarming party yet.  When I do have it, it will be more than a year later.  But, whatever.  I'm not bitter.  At all. 

Amber was nice enough to let me bring lots of food to her housewarming party.  That meant that I got to try lots of new recipes. This one was a big hit!  Everybody loves pepperoni and melted cheese.  Toss in a crisp, buttery crescent roll . . . Perfect!  Plus, these get bonus points for being really easy to make. 

Source:  The Girl Who Ate Everything

What you need:
2 packages refrigerated Crescent Roll dough, garlic flavored
8 Cheese Sticks, halved
48-64 pieces of Pepperoni
Marinara Sauce and Ranch Dressing for dipping

What you do:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
2.  Place 3 to 4 pepperoni pieces on the bottom of the triangle of each 
     crescent roll. 
3.  Place one cheese stick half on top of the pepperoni on each 
     crescent roll. 
4.  Roll up each crescent roll and place seam side down on a cookie sheet. 
5.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crescent rolls are cooked 
     thoroughly (until they are golden brown).
6.  You can put out small bowls of marinara sauce and ranch dressing 
     for dipping if you would like. 



Copy Cat Recipe: Mini Warm Delights


I've eyed these Mini Warm Delights in the grocery store for a looooong time, but always refused to buy them because you have to pay about $3.00 for two teeeeeny tiny little single serving cakes.  I also thought that if I wanted a chocolate cake that bad, I'd just whip up an entire cake.  Well, in a moment of weakness, I finally bought them a few weeks ago.  I thought they were good, but still didn't think they were worth $1.50 each.  However, I was quite consumed with the idea of making myself a delicious little cake in just a couple of minutes. So, I decided I'd try to copy the recipe. 

I searched the Internet far and wide and found a lot of different recipes, but none were really all that appealing to me.  So, I experimented with my own recipe.  It turned out fabulous!  Much better than I ever could have expected.  And, I did a little taste test with my man friend and we both determined that my little recipe beats the Mini Warm Delights!  My cakes are more moist and more dense than the Mini Warm Delights.  I also think mine have a stronger chocolate flavor.  Take that Betty Crocker! ;-)  

I will warn you, the recipe below makes massive quantities.  But, you have options.  You can  make the recipe as directed below and store your mix in Tupperware at home.  I've even placed individual servings into small sandwich baggies and taken them to work so that whenever I need chocolate, it's there for me.  Or you can just cut the recipe down and have less on hand -- if you do so, just make sure you maintain the chocolate cake mix to brownie mix ratio (1:2). 

What you need for the cakes:
1 Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Box of Instant Chocolate Pudding
2 Boxes of Chocolate Brownie Mix
Miniature Chocolate Chips

What you do to make the mix:
1.  Pour the chocolate cake mix and instant pudding mix into one bowl.  Stir well to combine the two powders.
2.  Add the two boxes of brownie mix.  Stir well. 


When you want to make yourself a little cake, put 1/4 cup of the mixture and a teaspoon or two of miniature chocolate chips into a ramekin dish.  Add 7 Tsps (or 2 Tblsps + 1 Tsp) of water.  Stir well with a fork.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds. Then enjoy!

I put 1/4 cup of the mixture + some miniature chocolate chips into some baggies and took those, a ramekin, and a teaspoon to work.  So, when I need a little pick-me-up, it's there -- more delicious than the Mini Warm Delights, less expensive, and just as convenient!

Also, if you add about 1 Tsp of  Fudge Ice Cream Topping (like this, not like Hersey's Syrup) to the center of the ramekin before you microwave, you end up with a mini lava cake.  See the gooey fudge there:

Experiment away with toppings for these little cakes!  We've added whipped topping and ice cream and loved both! 



Breakfast Lasagna


Sooooooo . . . I've been on a bit of a hiatus from the blog.  Sorry about that!  I got to the point where I wasn't making progress on my house and I was getting quite frustrated.  I decided that I was juggling too many balls and I'd need to make a cut if I was going to get anythying completed.  So, I put blogging on hold and focused on the house.  All the while I continued trying new recipes, so I've got lots to share with you. AND, I'm in like *this* close to perfecting an amazing recipe, making all the waiting soooooo worth it!

Anyhow,  the good new is:  I'm done with all of the substantial painting!  The bad news is:  I'm far from done with the renovations. 

Back to good news, shall we?  I think I'm far enough along with the house that I can start blogging again and maintain progress!  So, here I am.  And to make up for lost time, I bring you breakfast lasagna.  This is "man's man"'s dream!  You'll love it too, I promise!  

I got the idea from I Breathe . . . I'm Hungry . . ..  Except, she made hers low carb and healthy and stuff.  That's not really my style.  So, using the basic idea, I made my own breakfast lasagna.  It's actually quite easy and quite filling.  One of these lasts me a full week for dinner.  Here it is:

What you'll need:
1 Can of Biscuits (I used flaky buttered flavored biscuits)
1 Can of White Sausage Gravy (I used this)
1 Lb. of breakfast meat of your choice (i.e. bacon, sausage -- so far I've used ground sausage, link sausage, and patty sausage)
8 Eggs
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

What you'll do:
1.  Bake your biscuits according to the can.  Leave the oven on when they're done baking.
2.  While the biscuits are baking, fully cook your breakfast meat. 
3.  Put the can of sausage gravy in a small pot on the stove to heat just until    warm.  While the gravy is warming, crack your eggs into a small bowl and whisk for scrambled eggs.  Cook eggs.
     *Hint:  I like to cook my eggs in a little of the grease left over from the meat I cook.  
       Clearly, not that healthy, but, seriously worth it.*
4.  In a 13 x 9 baking dish, put one layer of biscuits in the bottom.
     *Hint:  I cut all of my biscuits in half to make a more stable base.  I ended up using 
       three full biscuits (six halves) to cover the bottom of my pan.
5.  Spoon about half of the gravy on top of the biscuits.
6.  Layer about half of the scrambled eggs on top of the gravy.
7.  Layer about half of your cooked breakfast meat on top of the eggs.
8.  Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of the meat.
9.  Repeat steps 4 through 8, using the rest of your ingredients (I had two biscuits left over).
10.  Throw the pan in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until your cheese is thoroughly melted.


I've made this with link sausage and sausage patties.  I prefer the patties, but for no good reason, except they  are easier to cut when you're cutting the lasagna than links are.  I think bacon could be used as well.  I always add ground sausage to my gravy as well. I served mine with hash browns.


Heath Bar Cake


My mom has this very sweet friend at her work named Karen.  Karen is a great cook and has a heart of gold.  One year for Christmas she made me a homemade recipe book with some of her family recipes.  It is still my only recipe book.  Right before Easter my mom told me about this great cake that Karen had brought in to work and asked me to make it for Easter.  This cake is delicious and ridiculously easy.  I made mine the night before Easter and let it sit overnight, which I think made it even more moist and delicious. 

Here's what you'll need:
1 Chocolate Cake Mix and the additional ingredients called for on the box
1 Can Condensed Milk
1 Tub of Cool Whip
1 Jar of Caramel Sundae Sauce
1 1/2 King Size Heath Bars

Here's what you do:
1.  Make the chocolate cake according to the box instructions. 

2.  Let the cake cool slightly (about 7 minutes).  Take the handle end of a wooden spoon (or something of similar size) and poke holes throughout the cake.  I made mine pretty uniform in a grid pattern. 

3.  Pour the caramel sundae sauce and condensed milk over the entire cake, trying to distribute evenly. 

4.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

5.  While the cake is in the refrigerator, crush the heath bars.  (I put mine in a Ziploc baggie and used my wooden spoon to break up the bars). 

6.  After the cake has chilled for at least one hour, "frost" the cake with cool whip. 

7.  Garnish the cake with the Heath Bar pieces.  I suggest waiting until right before serving to garnish. 



Easter S'Mores Jars


I found this absolutely adorable idea on Pinterest and I COULD. NOT. RESIST. These jars are cute as a button!  And, the person you give them to gets to add a few ingredients and make them into S'mores Bars.  Perfect!  The jars are simple to assemble and the bars are easy for the recipient to make.  This is a perfect Easter Gift for the little people in your lives, but some adult supervision will be required to make the S'mores Bars.  My mom and I made a  whole batch of these jars to give to the kids in our family. 

Adapted from: Creative Holiday Gift Ideas

Here's what you need to make 1 jar:
1 One Quart Mason Jar
23 Hersey Kisses
8 Peeps
1/2 of a sleeve of Graham Crackers, crushed
1/4 cup of Brown Sugar

Here's what you do to assemble the jar:
1.  Clean the jar. 
2.  Put the crushed Graham Crackers in a baggie.  Add the Brown Sugar.  Set aside.
3.  Put the Hersey Kisses in the bottom of the jar. 
4.  Put the Peeps in the jar, with their faces facing out (so you can see their faces from the outside).  We could only fit 7 around the perimeter of the jar, so we stuck the 8th one inside the "circle" of Peeps.  
5.  Put the baggie of Graham Crackers and Brown sugar inside the jar above peeps. 
6.  Put the lid on the mason jar. 
7.  Create a recipe card with the instructions listed below.  Attach the recipe card to the jar with a piece of festive ribbon.  Ta Da!  You're done!

For the recipe card:
1.  Remove the contents of the jar and put on the kitchen counter. 
2.  Unwrap and cut Hersey Kisses into halves or quarters.  Put in a medium sized mixing bowl. 
3.  Cut (or tear) the Peeps into pieces.  Add to the mixing bowl. 
4.  Add the contents of the baggie to the mixing bowl. 
5.  Add 1 tsp of Vanilla to the mixing bowl. 
6.  Add 1/4 cup of melted Butter to the mixing bowl. 
7.  Stir the contents of the mixing bowl well. 
8.  Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into a small, well-greased baking dish. 
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. 

Enjoy!  Happy Easter!!


Lucky Charm Cupcakes


Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  I wanted to make a little treat in celebration, but I don't like corned beef.  I don't like cabbage. And I don't like beer.  I came across these little cuties and decided they would do.  So I made them, and they were delicious!  The cake is very neutral and spongy.  The frosting is quite sweet.  The two contrast each other nicely.  I tinted the cupcakes green to make them a little more festive.  

Slightly adapted from: Bella Baker

Here's what you need for the cupcakes:
3 cups Cake Flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 3/4 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Butter
2 Eggs

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk 

Food coloring as desired.

Here's what you do to make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

2.  Line cupcake tins with liners.

3.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

4,  Cream sugar and butter together. 

5.  Add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed. 

6.  Add flour mixture and milk to creamed mixture.  Alternate the flour mixture and the milk, beating well after each addition. 

7.  Add food coloring.  Continue beating one minute. 

8.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

9.  Remove to wire cooling rack.  Cool completely before icing.

Here's what you need for the icing:
1 stick Butter, softened
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff
2 cups Confectioners Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla 

Here's what you do to make the icing:
1.  Beat butter on high speed until light and fluffy. 

2.  Add marshmallow fluff and continue to beat until incorporated. 

3.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat on high for 5-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl. 

To assemble the cupcakes, I piped the icing on top of the cupcakes and sprinkled the marshmallows from Lucky Charm's cereal on top.  The marshmallows will get soft after sitting on the icing for some time, so don't top with marshmallows until shortly before serving. 



Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes


See that right there?  That's the most amazing mistake ever.  Seriously.  I decided to try to make this.  Except I didn't really read very closely and I accidentally bought the wrong ingredients.  And, I love cupcakes, so I made them in cupcake form, of course.

I was making these for one of my book club meetings.  Except I ran out of time to make them in advance and had to make them after I got home from teaching the night before our meeting.  So, I got home around 9:30 pm and quickly threw together my version of this cupcake.  But I didn't want to make a whole batch of my version and have them be terrible, because I had no time to make something delicious if they bombed.  So, I made one cupcake and put it in the oven, thinking if it came out terrible, I could try to save the rest of the batter.  Then I heated up my dinner and sat on the kitchen floor in front of my oven and watched my single cupcake bake.  It was kinda like watching grass grow, except way more exciting.  And, the end result was much more rewarding, I think!

See how the center of the cupcakes are darker than the outside?  That's because the center is filled full of delicious moist fudge.  And see how the tops look all sticky and gooey?  They are.  In the most delicious way possible, too.  I thought the marshmallow would have been over the top with all the chocolate, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Marshmallow + Chocolate = LOVE.  

These cupcakes must be eaten warm. (See the italics PLUS the underline??? I'm not kidding.)   I took leftovers to work and left step by step instructions requiring those eating them to heat them in the microwave before eating.

The marshmallow melts into the cupcake, which gets pretty messy.  I recommend eating with a fork. 

Source:  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen 

Here's what you need:
1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix and the eggs, oil and water called for on the box
1 Jar Hard Shell Chocolate Ice Cream Topping (like this)
1 7oz jar Marshmallow Fluff

Here's what you do:

1.  Prepare and bake cupcakes according to directions on the box. 

2.  As soon as the cupcakes are baked, pull them out of the oven.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke one large hole in the center of each cupcake (you want one large hole, not many small ones). 

3.  Fill each hole with the chocolate ice cream topping.

4.  Put a dollop of marshmallow fluff on top of each cupcake. 

5.  Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for about 2 more minutes. 




Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes


I've been quite enamored with the cupcake lately.  If you don't understand why, we can't be friends.  I mean, it's a miniature version of a big cake.  What's not to love?  These Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes are my latest in cupcake love.  

I went to a potluck dinner of sorts recently and the theme was breakfast.  I was beyond excited because breakfast is my favorite meal!  I figured the basics would be covered (and I was right), so I jumped on the dessert train, of course.  This was my favorite find in searching for breakfast themed cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste a lot like Cinnamon Toast Crunch (which I'd never eaten before I bought a box to make these cupcakes), but the icing is what really sends them over the top.  This is the kind of icing that is all sorts of soft and melty.  It's sweet, but not over the top.  Nothing short of perfect!  If you liked my recipe for Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, you've got to try this one because they're quite similar!

Adapted from: Ingredients of a 20something

Here's what you need for the cupcakes:
2 cups + 1 tbsp Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs, at room temperature
1 cup Buttermilk, well shaken
1 handful Cinnamon Toast Crunch, crushed into powdery crumbs
Additional Cinnamon Toast Crunch pieces for garnishing, if desired. 

Here's what you do to make the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

2.  Prepare your muffin tins (line with liners or spray with nonstick spray).

3.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir in Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumbs.  Set aside. 

4.  Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. 

5.  Add vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and mix well. 

6.  Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time.  Make sure each egg is mixed well into the batter before adding the next.

7.  Beat buttermilk into the mixture until well combined. 

8.  Add the flour mixture, adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Beat until well combined.  Repeat until all of the flour mixture has been added. 

9.  Fill each muffin tin about halfway full.

10.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

11.  Allow to cool completely before icing. 

Here's what you need for the icing:
3 sticks Butter, softened
4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
3 tsp Buttermilk
Ground Cinnamon, to taste (I used about 5 tsps)

Here's what you do to make the icing:
1.  Beat the butter until light and creamy. 

2.  Add the powdered sugar and buttermilk.  Add the first cup of powdered sugar.  Mix well.  Add 1 tsp buttermilk.  Mix well.  Repeat for cups two and three.  After adding the fourth cup of powdered sugar and mixing, you will not add more buttermilk. 

3.  Add the vanilla.  Mix well. 

4.  Add the ground cinnamon to taste. 

I iced my cupcakes the night that I made them and then added the cereal pieces on top as garnishment the morning of, so the cereal pieces didn't get soggy.  



Baked Taquitos


Here's a quick little dinner recipe that tastes great and is a healthy alternative to the fried taquito.  Although these are baked, they didn't come out soggy.  Instead that were nice and crispy, similar to fried taquitos.  I served mine with cilantro lime rice and it was a perfect pair.   

I found the recipe I based these off of on Pinterest.  The original recipe provides that the taquitos can be frozen and baked later.  I didn't get a chance to try freezing them because I ate them all.  But, I'm pretty sure you would have the same success freezing my modification of her recipe.  

Modified from: Pennies on a Platter

Here's what you need:
3 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Salsa
1 Lime
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp Green Onions, sliced
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Taco Meat Season Packet of your choice
1 cup Mexican flavored cheese, finely shredded
12 small Tortillas
1 tbsp Butter, melted
Kosher Salt

Here's what you do:
1.  Cook the ground beef thoroughly.  Season according to instructions on your season packet. 

2.  Combine cream cheese, salsa, juice of half of the lime, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic, cilantro and green onions. 

3.  Add the ground beef to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix well. 

4.  Add the cheese to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix well. 

5.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 

6.  Microwave 2 or 3 tortillas for about 20 seconds to make them pliable and easy to work with.  Fill each tortilla with a portion of the mixture, beginning on one edge.  Roll the tortilla up, beginning with the edge that was filled.  Place seam side down in a baking dish or cookie sheet.  Repeat until all of the mixture is gone. 

7.  Brush the top of each tortilla with the melted butter. 

8.  Sprinkle the kosher salt on top of the tortillas. 

9.  Sprinkle the lime juice of the remaining one half of the lime on top of the tortillas. 

10.  Bake for about 20 minutes.   Remove when the tortillas begin to crisp.  


Conversation Heart Cookies


I made these cute little cookies for Valentine's Day!

I have good news and I have bad news.  The good news is they turned out pretty cute, so I can tell you how to make cute little cookies of your own.  The bad news is, the recipes that I tried for the cookies and the icing were less than stellar, so I won't be sharing any recipes with you today.  It will be more of a how to tutorial.  

I found the idea on Pinterest.  I'm not sure how I used to entertain myself before I discovered Pinterest.  Anywho, recipes for sugar cookies and icing are all over Pinterest.  So, just head on over there and find yourself a sugar cookie and royal icing recipe that you like.  Then come back here and I'll tell you how to make your cookies super cute. 

1.  Make your heart-shaped sugar cookies.  

2.  Make your royal icing. 

3.  Divide the icing into as many colors as you would like your conversation hearts to be.  I did white, yellow, green, pink and purple.  You can google conversation heart images to get an idea of what colors you want to use.  

4.  Outline the cookies.  Using a #3 Wilton icing tip, fill your icing bag with the first icing color.  Outline the perimeter of each cookie that you would like to be that color.  Repeat with each color until all of your cookies have been outlined. 

     Hint:  Although I have reusable icing bags, I bought disposables for this job because I 
      knew I'd be changing colors frequently.  Click here to see what a #3 Wilton icing tip 
      looks like. 

5.  Going back to the first color your outlined with, put the icing back into the original bowl and add water to it slowly.  Add a few drops at a time and stir.  Continue doing this until you have a consistency that results in icing that is dribbled off the spoon into the bowl disappears into all the icing within a second or two.  Put approximately a tablespoon of icing on one cookie that has been outlined in this color.  Spread the icing around on the cookie until the entire surface of the outlined portion of the cookie is iced.  You can use a toothpick to do the spreading if you'd like.  I used my finger.  Because I'm not fancy pants.  And, that was waaaaaay faster.  Just keep a wet paper towel nearby to clean off your finger as needed.  Continue icing in this manner until all the cookies outlined in this color have been filled in. 

6.  Repeat step 5 until all cookies have been filled in. 

7.  Put red icing in an icing bag with a #3 Wilton tip.  Pipe cute phrases on the top of each cookie, beginning with the first cookie you piped and filled and going through the rest in the same order they were piped and filled (being methodical about the order in which you decorate ensures that the icing on the cookie has time to dry before you start piping on top).  Again, you can google image conversation hearts if you need ideas for what to pipe on top. 

     Hint:  It takes a lot of red icing coloring to make a vibrant red color that you will need for 
      these cookies.  I just bought a tube of red icing and squeezed that into my icing bag.

8.  Make sure cookies are completely dried before storing.  Do not store stacked on one another.  Your icings will bleed.  Not that I know from experience or anything . . . 



Energy Balls


My good friend Amber suggested that I try her AMAZING recipe for energy balls.  A while ago.  Like, last October.  I quickly opened the recipe because I get all excited when my friends and family share recipes with me!  Then I read the ingredients and quickly closed the recipe.  Pfffffft!  This recipe calls for wheat germ or flaxseed.   And no sugar.  At all!?!  NO SUGAR????  Are you kidding me?   Clearly, she didn't know me very well.  

So I thanked her for her recipe and told her I'd put it on my list of recipes to try.  Then I scoffed inside.  Because I knew there was nooooo way I was going to make that silly hippie food. 

Well, I've been feeling a little low on energy lately (helllllooo 15 hour work days).  So, this weekend I got desperate.  And decided to try her hippie energy balls.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, so why not?  And, I just knew that when I ate one and it tasted like cardboard, I'd be vindicated.  And I could return to sugar as my main source of energy. 

So, I made them.  And then I ate one.  And then I ate like one million more.  Because these things are deeeelicious, people.  There's no saving my pride here, folks.  I owe Amber one big fat apology.  So, here it is.  You were right and I was wrong.  (God, I hate how that sounds!)

Have a little faith in me and give these things a shot.  Seriously, I promise, you won't be disappointed.  They require very few ingredients and very little time.  They're scrumptious, healthy, and they give you energy.  What do you have to lose? 

I like these so much that I'm already trying to come up with variations.  But, for now, here is my version of Amber's  Energy Balls:

Here's what you need:
1 cup Quick Oats
2 heaping tbsp Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 c wheat germ or flaxseed
2 tsp Vanilla

Here's what you do:
1.  Mix everything together. 
2.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
3.  Roll into one inch balls. 
4.  Enjoy!  Seriously -- that's it. 

FYI -- Amber's recipe also called for coconut and dried fruit.  I'm picky.  I don't like coconut, so I omitted that.  And dried fruit just didn't sound like it would fit all that well with all the other ingredients, so I kicked that out too.  I could have been wrong about that.  I've been wrong about other things.  *aaahheeemm*  Feel free to add those back in.  She suggested a cup of each.